FORTUNE -- So You Fail, So What. That's the title of a Fortune cover story that I wrote two decades ago. The story still has legs (readers ask me about it to this day) and is more relevant now than ever: The global flow of ideas and money enables anyone to innovate, test, fail, pivot and try again.
If you haven't failed, in fact, you may not be a leader at all. That's what a cast of star athlete-businesswomen said during Playing to Win, a live webcast that I moderated for Ernst & Young on Monday.
"A great champion deals with setback with a comeback," said Donna de Varona, who was a gold medal Olympic swimmer in the 1960s and knows from experience. De Varona set a world record at age 13, lost it at 15, got it back at 16 and retired at age 17 because back then, little funding existed for girls like her to train and compete in sports.
So, de Varona left the pool and went to Congress to push for Title IX, the 1972 legislation that changed the game for women by requiring equal opportunity for girls to pursue sports and other activities in any educational institution that receives public funding.
"Setbacks are just learning experiences," added Beth Brooke, EY's global vice chair for public policy, who led the 2013 creation of the firm's Women Athletes Business Network to help elite performers in sports pivot into business. "It's not the winning that teaches you how to be resilient. It's the setback. It's the loss," Brooke explained. "It's the knowledge that if I work harder, if I practice longer, if I'm more disciplined, I will do better tomorrow."
Summer Sanders, who won two gold medals for swimming in the 1992 Olympic Games, agrees: "If you don't fail, you don't know who you really are at your worst moment."
Here's a short video clip of the EY conversation. Click here to watch the full 75-minute webcast, which also included tennis legend Martina Navratilova, Brazilian swimming champion Fabiola Molina, British track champ Dame Kelly Holmes and Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment Management and founder of the 30% Club, which aims to make UK corporate boards at least 30% female by 2015.
FORTUNE -- How do you get from zero to $1 billion in revenue in five years?
Google (GOOG) did it by organizing the world's information.
Facebook (FB) did it by making the world more open and connected.
A hyper-growth trajectory, you might assume, requires a world-changing idea, brilliant programmers, and a Silicon Valley address.
Not necessarily. Hamdi Ulukaya borrowed $1 million to buy an 85-year-old factory in upstate New York, came up with a MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 10, 2013 10:39 AM ET
By Patricia Sellers
At Ernst & Young's Strategic Growth Forum in Palm Desert, California, I'm with 1,700 entrepreneurs, investors and other business folks who, you would think, would prefer to schmooze with celebs like Google's (GOOG) Sergey Brin, Amazon.com's (AMZN) Jeff Bezos or other tech icons. It's odd that the Masters of the Industrial Universe are the stars here, sharing business and career lessons.
At dinner Tuesday night, I sat with two MOREPatricia Sellers - Nov 11, 2010 10:16 AM ET
On Friday, I left you with a promise: that I'd find something new and proactive to do to answer President Obama's call to "responsibility"--which seems to be the buzzword of his Administration.
I found my "to do" this weekend--but before I tell you what I decided on, let me share briefly what I spent yesterday working on. Carrie Welch, my onetime Fortune colleague and former Most Powerful Women Summit co-chair, and MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 2, 2009 2:10 PM ET
Men think about power vertically -- and focus on rank and status and size. Women think about power horizontally -- it's largely about influence. I know I'm in trouble already. This is a stereotype, indeed. But in more than a decade of asking women leaders -- and the men they work with -- how they define power, I've discovered this to be an remarkably consistent truth. My favorite definition of MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 10, 2008 10:51 AM ET
Women exercise power horizontally. I've said this often -- in speeches about leadership and at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, an annual event that I chair. This horizontal slant spurs women leaders to reach beyond the jobs they're hired to do.
Want proof? In May, 40 top female executives in the U.S. -- all participants in the Fortune Summit -- spent two and half weeks mentoring rising stars from 24 MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 12, 2008 2:16 PM ET
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